Hot N Juicy Crawfish Is Open in Tempe -- Prepare to Get Messy, Seafood Fans
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
Lauren Saria Crawfish by the pound with any amount of heat you can handle.
Restaurant: Hot N Juicy Crawfish
Lauren Saria Inside Hot N Juicy Crawfish on Mill Avenue.
Location: 740 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
Open: Less than a week
Price: $25+ per person
If you've heard of the Las Vegas-based restaurant chain Hot N Juicy Crawfish, then chances are you've either already gone to the new Tempe location or have plans to do so soon. The restaurant opened last Friday at the Centerpoint on Mill complex and has wasted no time in attracting diners. We waited about 30 minutes for a table on Monday night -- and we weren't the only ones. It seems this town has been waiting for a restaurant like this to come around.
And after our dinner, we're sure happy it did.
Style isn't the focus here, though that's not to say the restaurant isn't comfortably designed. There's a small bar and two dining areas that feature tables, booths, and quite a few flat screen tvs. Before you take your seats, your table will be draped with a plastic tablecloth and equipped with a roll of paper towels. They're also going to give you bibs and offer gloves. You're going to want the bib unless you don't care about your shirt and unless you like the smell of garlic and seafood on your fingers, you'd be wise to take the gloves.
At Hot N Juicy, you can obviously dig into pounds of crawfish -- served in plastic bags, heavy with a flavored sauce of your choice -- but you also have the option of trying lobster, black and green mussels, four types of crab, and shrimp. Other menu options include fried catfish, fried shrimp, etoufee, corn fritters, and more. If you're a seafood fan, you'll probably have a hard time choosing.
Lauren Saria A basket of corn fritters.
All the seafood available by the pound is "market price," which can range from $8.99 for a pound of black mussels to $24.99 per pound of king crab legs. On our visit, the crawfish cost $10.99 a pound; for perspective, consider that a single person can usually eat anywhere from two to five pounds. Everything is available in five different flavors -- Louisiana Style, Juicy Cajun, garlic Butter, Lemon Pepper, and Hot N Juicy -- which can further be customized to the spice level of you choice: baby spice, mild, medium, spicy, and extra spicy.
At our table of four, we started with two pounds of crawfish, both Hot N Juicy flavored, with one at mild spice and the other at medium. Each pound arrived in a double-wrapped plastic bag that doubles as your plate with the crawfish soaking in sweet and spicy smelling seasoning. The Hot N Juicy flavor is finger-licking good and more than justifies sucking all the extra juices out of the crawfish heads. Of the two, we slightly preferred the mild variety, which delivered a nice heat but not so much that it overpowered the sweet side of the seasoning. The medium had us sweating halfway through the meal, so go hotter at your own risk.